Tuesday 30 July 2013

LearnUCS 2013/14 Module Roll Out

We are pleased to announce the start of the 2013/14 module roll out in LearnUCS.  The data integration between SITS and LearnUCS has been tested over the last 5 days and the data is robust enough to allow us to start the roll out.

Modules will be appearing in LearnUCS this afternoon and will be available for Course Administrators to start adding lecturers when required.

Lecturers should request access from their Course Administrators.

For students: after enrolling or re-enrolling you will gain access to your 2013/14 modules once your lecturers have added their materials and made them available.  If you believe that modules have been made ready, but you are still unable to access them, you should contact your lecturer or course administrator in the first instance.

LearnUCS - Issue with accessing modules for some lecturers

The Elevate team have become aware of an issue for staff who are enrolled on more than 99 module/course areas.

The "My Modules" box can not display all areas and offers access via the Course Catalogue, unfortunately there is a software bug that prevents the Course Catalogue giving access to the remaining areas.

Below is the message we have received from Blackboard:

Our Product Development organization has verified this issue as a software defect. The next step in our process is to determine the target release for fixing this bug. Depending on the severity of this issue, it could take up to 30 days for us to make a determination. We will follow up with another email to let you know our plans for including the fix in an upcoming service pack.

Basically, the "My Courses" module no longer shows more than 99 courses and refers users to the course catalog to search for the courses.

Tier 3 are working on this problem at this moment. I have linked this case to the BUG report so you can receive updates about it as soon as they are available.

If you are enrolled over 99 modules and experience this problem, the Elevate team are able to run an internal work-around by removing any unwanted modules.  Too many modules become unmanageable and a number of staff will have hidden these modules and may have forgotten they have access.

The Elevate team will be looking at batch disabling the 2010/11 modules this week, which will hopefully help alleviate the issue.

We apologise for this inconvenience and will update once we hear from Blackboard.

Friday 26 July 2013

Issue with long file names and uploading assignments in LearnUCS.

A recent issue has been raised when a student uploads a file into an assignment area with a file which has a very long file name on LearnUCS.

In uploading a file with a large file name a large red error will occur. The file does end up submitting, however lecturers can't view or do anything with the file. If this has happened to you, please contact your course admin team.


Here is a bad example for a file name to upload:

This is my assignment for - the research i did for a certain topic including works by other authors and contributors - this is some more example text to show the length of the filename.doc

Here is a good example for a file name to upload:

Short Assignment Name.doc


This is also affecting students retrieving feedback, but only for those who have uploaded previously long file names before the LearnUCS upgrade. If you are having issues viewing your feedback please contact your course admin team.

This has been raised with BlackBoard and we will be working with them for a solution.

Apologies for any inconvenience.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

You said, we did (SARE Interim Report 2013)

This post reports on progress from the Elevate Team SARE (2012/13). This is an interim report as the full review will be completed in October 2013 in preparation for the next year operational plan.

I have clustered a number of the actions under common questions and themes.

If you have any questions about the following, please contact Andy Ramsden (e-Learning Development Manager, UCS)

How can I find out what are the supported e-learning tools at UCS?

To help staff and students identify the available e-learning tools at UCS for 2013/14, and the level of support, we have published the e-Learning Tool Landscape 2013/14.

The supported Tools within the e-Learning Tool Landscape have a set life-cycle of their own. For instance, an annual evaluation, potential annual upgrade and a review of the online and face to face support materials. A really useful way to find out what are the supported tools at UCS, and an overview of what they do is to read the annual reflections for each tool. These are available through the Elevate Team blog (http://ucselevate.blogspot.co.uk/p/reports-publications.html).

How do staff use e-learning tools to enhance their teaching, learning and assessment?

A key role for the Elevate Team is (collaborating with other teams) to foster a community of practice to share experiences and ideas of the appropriate and effective use of technology enhanced learning (teaching and assessment). We do this through a number of ways, including our face to face presentations, workshops, events, and online reports and other materials. In response to regular requests we have started two dissemination initiatives:

Discussion and positioning papers

These papers are written by various members of the Elevate Team. They aim to provide more detail on approaches and learning technologies to help staff make more informed choices. Two recent papers include;
Case studies ... In discussion with

The aim of these short (3 minute) audio interviews are to build a pool of available resources for staff to access to appreciate how other staff have been using technologies in their teaching, learning and assessment. These stories are mapped to the e-Learning Tool Landscape to ensure they are supported. They are available from;

How connected are the Elevate Team to developments at other UK HEIs?

An important role of the Elevate Team is to act as a conduit for transferring appropriate ideas and developments across UK HE to inform teaching, learning and assessment models at UCS. To help us provide this role, we interface with a wider community, including;

  1. Attendance and presentations at the Heads of e-Learning Forum (including steering group member)
  2. Attendance and presentations at JISC RSC Eastern events (e-learning & VLE forum)
  3. Steering group member of Augmented Reality Special Interest Group
  4. Member of Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (including steering group member)
  5. Attendance at Vendor events

Can users (staff and students) have a voice in the Elevate Team's direction?

The Elevate Team have been rolling out opportunities for various stake holders to have a voice in the direction we take in terms of the staff development on offer and the services we provide. The initial area of development has been the creation and management of the LearnUCS Administrators Advisory Group. There is also emerging a regular meeting with Academic Services around the course administration and e-submission. We are hoping to create advisory groups around a number of upcoming projects, including the VLE Review (due for 2013/14).

With respect to the student body the Elevate Team are further develop relationships with the Student Union, and aiming for regular presentations at Student Council.

As a member of staff / student, how can I improve my digital literacy levels?

The Elevate Team have been working closely with the Library and Learning Development teams to create a new digital literacy course for staff and students. This course will be rolled out from September 2013 onwards, and will include both face to face and online delivery. The aim of the programme is to ensure you are an effective resident of a digital world. For some background information, see

Can you help me create interactive learning materials?

We have started to explore good practice in terms of creating interactive learning materials using the Xerte software. This involves the course team and the Elevate Team working in collaboration on the learning design, creating appropriate multimedia and the final tutorial.

The Elevate Team have also been providing an audio visual service for the creation of multimedia to be included in learning activities. This includes, recording presentations, creation of talk over powerpoint and role play videos.

Monday 22 July 2013

In discussion with ... Sally Payne on recording student presentations

This is a discussion with Sally Payne (Lecturer in School of Applied Social Science). The discussion is around her use of video recording student presentations for formative feedback and self-reflection.

Some key messages I took include;
  1. positive feedback in student evaluations, where they identified it was very helpful and worthwhile.
  2. positive perception from course team as they plan to integrate it further and widen use to other modules.

Sunday 21 July 2013

LearnUCS Upgrade - Complete

The LearnUCS upgrade is complete and login is now active again.
To see some of the new features please visit the Elevate Team blog http://ucselevate.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/LearnUCS
As will all upgrades we have tested the site as much as possible and believe the system is working as expected.  If you do find any issues please contact the Elevate Team at elevate@ucs.ac.uk

LearnUCS Upgrade - 8.00pm Update

Tier II are continuing to work on the problem. 

We will update again at 10.00pm. 

LearnUCS Upgrade - 6.00pm Update

Tier II support are still working on the issue, we will update again at 8.00pm. 

LearnUCS Upgrade - 3.00pm Update

The support team have identified the issue and have passed this up to Tier II support, we have taken the decision to give Tier II more time before we release the system.

We will update at 6.00pm this evening.

LearnUCS Upgrade - 12noon Update

Phase 3 testing is complete and we have just the 1 issue mentioned previously, we are currently waiting on the support team whilst they investigate the issue.

Please check back at 3.00pm, if the support team has not been able to rectify the issue, we will release the software with that feature disabled.

LearnUCS Upgrade - Phase 3 Continued

We are progressing well with the final phase of testing.  This testing has raised one issue that we have reported to the upgrade team.

We hope to have this issue fixed today allowing us to open the system this afternoon.  If we are unable to fix the issue today, we will disable that functionality and allow access back to the system.

Check back here at 12noon for further details.

Saturday 20 July 2013

LearnUCS Upgrade - Phase 3

Phase 2 has been completed after the issue we had experienced was corrected, the system is now working as expected.

The team have moved on to phase 3, new feature testing.  This phase may take longer than phase 2, we will report here with progress.

Thank you.

LearnUCS Upgrade - Testing Phase

We are pleased to be able to announce that phase 1 of the upgrade has completed an hour before schedule.

This now means we can move to phase 2, the testing phase.  The Elevate team are currently testing the upgrade to make sure the system is responding as expected.  

Early stages of phase 2 has picked up one issue, that has been reported to the support team.

Phase 3 will be testing the new features, ready for allowing users back on to the system.

Check back later this afternoon for further updates.

Friday 19 July 2013

LearnUCS Upgrade - Underway

The LearnUCS upgrade has started, login access has been removed, both directly into LearnUCS and from MyUCS.

We will be updating this bog has the upgrade progresses, please check back Saturday afternoon for more updates.

Thursday 18 July 2013

LearnUCS Upgrade - Student Common Tasks

With the LearnUCS Summer Upgrade taking place this weekend, we have compiled a list of common tasks and new features for students accompanied that with a video guide of how to complete the task in the new LearnUCS release. 

Please be aware that fully ratified results are available via the MyUCS system which will not be affected by the upgrade to LearnUCS.

First access of Upgraded LearnUCS: The first time you access the upgraded system you will be greeted by an overlay showing the new Global Navigation system and allowing you to create your new profile.  You are able to pull in a photograph/avatar and profile information from either Facebook or Twitter, if you are currently using those system.  This is a one way pull of information and there is no way for any information to be passed back to Facebook or Twitter.

Changes to Assignment Submissions: When submitting your assignment using a Microsoft Office file you will now be shown your submitted document in the browser window.  This new feature now allows you to view your document to confirm you have submitted the correct document.  If you haven't submitted the correct document you will need to contact your Course Administrator.  Along with now being able to view your document in the browser, your lecturer can also view and annotate your document with comments/feedback directly in the browser.

Viewing Comments and Feedback: Now lecturers can annotate documents directly in their browser, you can receive that feedback in the same browser format.  Using the new Global Navigation and Notification system you will be notified and able to directly access that feedback.

The LearnUCS system will be unavailable from 5.00pm on Friday 19th July, and will be back available by Monday 22nd July at the latest.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

OMR Service Report: Administering objective tests in assessment and feedback models using optical mark reader software

The Elevate Team have been running an Optical Mark Reading Service (OMR) since 2011-12. The aim of the service is to provide an opportunity for course teams to use Objective Testing (low and high stake) in their assessment and feedback models at UCS. This service complements the use of the Quiz (Test) Engine in LearnUCS.

The usage can be divided by the following broad activities.

Admission for Radiography
  • As part of the admissions process the Radiography Team run a Literacy Test (20 questions) and Numeracy Test (24 questions). During 2012-13 the Elevate Team administered 20 tests.
Examinations and assessed work
  • IMDEC103 - January 2013 exam & resit
  • IMDPSY111 - January 2013 exam & resit
  • GCC00016 - February 2013 exam
  • IHRDIR115 - June 2013 exam

Friday 12 July 2013

In discussion with ... Leigh Parratt on the Explain Everything App

The video (3 mins) is part of our In Discussion with Series. Which aims to share practice in how lecturers have been using appropriate technologies to enhance their teaching, assessment and the student learning experience.

This discussion is with Leigh Parratt around how she has been using the Explain Everything app to record some feedback videos. Leigh outlines how it has been used on her face to face course. Some of the key message I took from this include;

  • positive student feedback on the use of the app to create problem solution videos

  • it was really easy to use

  • her future plans are to continue to use it and integrate the videos into her lecturers

The following is an example of the feedback she created.

For more information on how you might use Clickers in your teaching and learning, please email the Elevate Team (elevate@ucs.ac.uk)

Tuesday 9 July 2013

A tablet in the hands of a lecturer: reflections on the use of tablets at UCS 2012/13

The Elevate Team have reviewed the use of Tablets (mainly iPads) at UCS over the last academic year. The report is available from:

Or alternatively, it is in the Elevate Team's Report area; http://wolseyweb.ucs.ac.uk/blogs/elevate/?page_id=70

I was very impressed by the way lecturers have quickly found activities which add value to themselves and the student learning experience, outside the applications we (Elevate) support course teams and individuals on. For instance, the following quote illustrates the degree to which some lecturers have embedded their use of Tablets,

“photography specific apps have allowed me to illustrate techniques (demonstrations of shutter and aperture to BA Hons Graphic Design students via the camera simulator app). We have viewed student negatives on the ilovefilm app, and used the viewfinder pro app to make lens choices with students” Response A in Evaluation Survey, 2013


Mahara in Numbers - June

Back again reporting on the figures in Mahara. Over the past couple of months there has been a gradual levelling out from a peak in activity in November 2012. The total number of unique users has increased slightly, however it will take a longer period of time to extrapolate any solid data from this as this has only just started being monitored, this and a few extra statistics such as space used for data.

We have had a total of 628 unique users access Mahara, and between the months of February and end of June we have had between 82 - 164 users access Mahara every month.

This levelling off from the last peak between SEP-NOV 2012 is higher than that of the first peak in the same period the following year. We will get a better picture of sustained usage after this years 2013 September induction as we are raising Mahara's profile and its effective use in the student induction programme.

Monday 8 July 2013

e-Learning Technology Landscape for 2013/14

The following link is to our e-Learning Technology Landscape for 2013/14. The main change since the previous year is we've better defined the support levels.

If you have any questions about the Landscape, or would like to us to talk it through with you and your colleagues, please contact the Elevate Team (elevate@ucs.ac.uk)

If you'd like to see these e-learning tools within the wider context of pilots, retired services etc., see


Friday 5 July 2013

LearnUCS Summer Upgrade - Common Tasks

With the LearnUCS Summer Upgrade fast approaching, we have compiled a list of common tasks and new features for lecturers and accompanied that with a video guide of how to complete the task in the new LearnUCS release.  We will be adding to this list over the next few weeks.  If you are a UCS lecturer and you would like access to the test environment to have a play with the new version, please email elevate@ucs.ac.uk

New Features

Navigation:  This release of LearnUCS uses a new Dashboard style navigation system.  All notification are made to the dashboard, allowing you to reply to blog post and discussion posts without having to go to each separate module/course areas.   The new Retention Centre also sends notifications to the dashboard as do many tools.


Inline Grading Tool: Probably the biggest new feature is the Inline Grading tool.  This tool allows lecturers to view and annotate a student's online submission directly in the browser via the Gradecentre.  This means there is no need to download the document to mark it off line, which in turns removes the need to upload feedback to individual students.  Below is a link to the a video showing the new Inline Grading tool in action.


Retention Center: The old Performance Dashboard has been replaced with a new Retention Centre that allows quick and easy access to learner analytics.  This gives the lecturer a dashboard to view set rules, notifying them of warnings including, students not logging in, missed assessment deadlines and more.


Content Editor: The Content Editor is a replacement for the old text box editor, this has now been completely reworked and now allows for changes to colours and fonts and more.  This now is a proper WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor.


Profiles: Blackboard Profiles are a new tool allowing all users to create a profile of themselves, that also has a one way connection to Twitter and Facebook.  This one way connection allows you to pull in your avatar - photograph and profile text to LearnUCS.  Profiles are used to allow users to identify each other, so you can roll your mouse over someones name on a discussion board in your course/module, to see more information about that person, if they have chosen to use their profile.


Common Tasks

Discussion Boards: The discussion board tool has been completely rewritten, giving a much better experience for users.  You now get to see all messages in a thread without having to click to see each one.


Calendars: This tool has also been completely rewritten, all calendars can now been seen from the dashboard in a single view.  This view allows changes to be made to the calendars without having to go to each separate area.  You can also link the LearnUCS calendar to other external calendars, if you are a Google Calendar user, you can display the LearnUCS calendars in Google.


Course Files: Using Course files allows you to upload structured zip files into LearnUCS which can then be unzipped in the same structure.  You can also use drag and drop if you setup the WebDAV feature.


Adding Files from Course Files:  If you use Course Files to add materials to LearnUCS, you will need to know how to add those to your module to allow students to access them, this video shows how to do that.



Tuesday 2 July 2013

A taste of things to come: Reflections on the use of Tablets at UCS 2012/13

As part of the continued investigation into the potential use of tablets as a learning technology for staff at UCS, we'll soon be publishing our annual report on "A tablet in the hands of a lecturer: Reflections on the use of Tablets at UCS 2012/13". Some snippets are ....


The aims of the initiatives around teaching staff using tablets is to facilitate the exploration of tablet technologies to enhance teaching, learning and assessment. In particular, to help inform people at UCS about the potential of this technology to meet the broad strategic aims within UCS’s Teaching and Learning Strategy, including;

  • To develop assessment practices which are developmental, transparent, relevant and fair and which provide high quality, timely feedback

  • To offer a wide range of modes of delivery and utilise current technologies to provide more flexible opportunities for study

  • To provide learning and teaching informed by high quality research and scholarly activity

In 2012/13 the Elevate Team

  • administered eight tablet devices which were loaned (long and short term loans to staff at UCS (Ipswich and Lowestoft)

  • supplied iTunes vouchers for staff to buy specific apps, including Explain Everything, Goodnotes and iAnnotate

  • loaned peripherals to staff (stylus, projector connectors and external microphones)

  • provide bespoke support to course teams and individuals who are using tablet devices as a learning technology

  • included specific iPad apps within our supported Learning Technology Landscape, including; UCS Connect, Goodnotes, GoTo Meeting, Explain Everything, Voice Record HD and MobileLearn.

This report draws together the findings of a recent staff survey, and reflective posts through the last 12 months (See Appendix 2 for links to blog posts around these pilots)

Particular uses included;

  • annotation and return of student submitted assignments

  • provision of generic multimedia based feedback around questions and problem sets

  • recording (audio) of focus groups and class discussions for reflection

  • recording (video) student presentations for staff and students to talk through and provide formative feedback

  • use by individuals of discipline specific apps

  • use on dissertation and project meetings as a record and list of actions to be shared via email directly after the meeting


The data was collected via an online survey available during May and June 2013 (see Appendix 1 for the survey questions). The survey was promoted to those who had borrowed a Tablet device from the Elevate Team, and to all staff via a posting on the Elevate Team blog (http://wolseyweb.ucs.ac.uk/blogs/elevate/?p=101792) on the 21st May. The posting was automatically forwarded to the Elevate Team area on MyUCS.

In total there were 14 responses. Given the response rate it must be acknowledged this is not a statistically significant survey and the findings should take this into account.


The aims for 2013/14 are about encouraging use, creative thinking around technology enhanced learning and facilitating a community of practice through disseminating staff experiences. Based on the survey and a number of other conversations, the recommendations for 2013/14 are listed below.

  • re-align the focus from the provision of a specific tablet device, towards accommodating staff who bring their own device. Therefore, shifting the resource to the provision of vouchers and loan of peripherals (stylus, external microphones and projector connectors)

  • Test the current generation of Apple, Microsoft and Andriod devices against a list of common tasks. Complete by September 2013

  • Write a collaborative project proposal with a Division at UCS Ipswich to provide a tablet to all teaching staff in the Division with coordinate a number of pilot studies and staff development events. Complete proposal by October 2013, and seek funding.

  • be more proactive in raising staff awareness of effective use of tablets as a learning technology through facilitating a community of practice. Including, hosting an event on Mobile Learning (A tablet in the hand of a lecturer) at UCS. Complete by April 2014.